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Yoga: types and benefits

A traditional practice originated in India, Yoga has become more than a type of exercising, it is also a lifestyle. There are so many benefits around this form of physical activity that it is needless to say how important it is to get to know it, especially if you are someone that struggles with anxiety, stress and that want to fix their posture.

We see many photos on social media of people in poses that seem so difficult to reach. In fact, they are, but once you get the balance to do so, you will find you that Yoga is all about flexibility, focus and fun.

Types of Yoga

There are different types of Yoga, such as Hatha Yoga and Ashtanga Yoga. The first one is great for beginners as will include basic poses, focus on breathing techniques and even meditation. The second one is more structured and involves syncing up a continuous series of postures and using breathing skills.

Some studios also offer a third type called Vinyasa, that is basically in between Hatha and Ashtanga, but requires a bit of practice from the person so not usually indicated for beginners.

You may also have heard about Hot Yoga, a popular variation that aims to imitate the hot and humid weather from India. It helps you detox your body, as it makes you sweat heavily, it must be done with precaution. It is definitely not indicated for those who struggle with low blood pressure and it may cause injuries and fainting.

The benefits of Yoga

Recent studies published in the Harvard Medical School Mental Health Letter showed a list of benefits of practising Yoga for people struggling with psychological issues.

Yoga for anxiety

Following the results, it was shown evidence that practising can reduce the impact of stress and may be helpful for anxiety and depression. The fact that involves breathing techniques, meditation and relaxation are key factors to guarantee a better quality of life for those battling with those symptoms. Yoga also can reduce heart rate and blood pressure.

Research from scientists at the University of Utah pointed out that people with poor response to stress tend to be more sensitive to pain, which suggests that Yoga practitioners had the “highest pain tolerance and lowest pain-related brain activity during an MRI”.

Yoga for your body

It is unrealistic to say that Yoga is the type of exercise that will make you lose weight after a month or to get your arms muscly. On another hand, Yoga does help (a lot) with increasing your flexibility and your balance. A report published on the Asian Journal of Sports Medicine explained a result of a study with 66 elderly participants to either practice Yoga or callisthenics. After one year of practising 15-30 minutes of exercise, the total flexibility of the yoga group increased by nearly four times the other one.

Image: Burst

Yoga for back pain

Since 2007, the American Society of Pain guidelines urges physicians to recommend Yoga to patients that suffer from long-term pain in the lower back. It is a known fact that the postures made during Yoga classes may help with issues related to back problems.

That is because it helps to increase strength in specific muscles and muscle groups in the back, and also abdominal muscles _which are essential components to align your spine and help the body to maintain proper posture and movement.

When you have a body that is fit to be in the correct alignment, it decreases the chances of having any back issues.

Disadvantages of Yoga

Even with all the benefits, there is also careful consideration to be made before you sign up for Yoga classes. It is a very demanding type of exercise and, for those looking for bodybuilder results or for a drastic weight loss, it is definitely not the right choice.

Not only that, even though Yoga may be great to help with posture, it is not advised that people that are currently recovering from an injury try Yoga. Also bear in mind that despite looking like a relaxing activity, Yoga also may cause injury if you don’t do the positions correctly, hence we always advise to look for proper instruction despite the number of home videos teaching you how to do them.

The best way to start Yoga

In many places, is easy to find free Yoga trial-classes. It is advised that you go to one to see if you identify with the style of those classes, as it may involve meditation and breathing techniques, and in case you are a more active kind of person you can find it a bit… boring.

Make sure you find a studio or a private teacher that can walk you through the first steps to see if you enjoy this relaxing and full of benefits exercise.

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